June 20, 2013

The George Washington Bridge

The George Washington Bridge, over the Hudson River and dividing New York and New Jersey, is likely the heaviest and busiest of suspension bridges. Crossing the Hudson River at 178th Street, it is designed to carry huge loads. Twenty thousand tons of riveted steel for each tower was erected by massive derricks. Sixteen columns of steel 635 feet above water, as high as the Washington Monument, were put up.

The steelwork was planned early as a skeleton, and was to be covered by concrete and granite. However, as the steel skeleton rose, story by story, the unexpected attractiveness of the exposed steelwork fascinated virtually everyone who witnessed it. Consequently, massive appeals arose to "forget the masonry" that had been planned for the towers. Each of the four cables holding up the deck is a yard in diameter and a mile long. The 100,000 miles of wire could encircle the globe four times. Construction began in 1927 and continued for the next 4 years. Provision was made for an additional (lower) deck, which has since been added. The bridge opened to traffic in 1931. Of course it honors the name of the great General who managed to form the thirteen original colonies into one United States.

Stamp Issue: 1952

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